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Preview: Dallas Stars @ Phoenix Coyotes (8:00pm CST)

Enjoy this one on Fox Sports Southwest PLUS this evening as 2016 starts drifting gently out to sea.

NHL: Dallas Stars at Arizona Coyotes Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Stars gave themselves a little Christmas gift Friday when they finally broke through for a third goal against the Los Angeles Kings- That it was an extremely rare overtime made it all the sweeter. The three-day break following was icing on the cake.

The Christmas gifts continue as Dallas plays what appear to be the two worst teams in the league in the Arizona Coyotes and Colorado Avalanche coming out of the break. The Stars went 3-1-1 on their face homestand said to be critical to saving the wayward season. Lindy Ruff was pleased. Kind of.

"I said that seven out of 10 is great," he opined Friday. "I feel like we need 10 out of 10. But, we are getting points. We are going the right direction, and even with the bodies we have had out, we are playing a game we can win right now.”

The Christmas freeze mandated by the CBA means there's not a shred of news or comment from the organization or traditional media past what was said following the win Friday night- Excepting the fact that Dallas recalled a player from Texas late Monday night.

Forward Jason Dickinson has been recalled from the Texas Stars- Meaning, seemingly, that neither Antoine Roussel or Patrick Sharp are ready to return from their respective injuries while Cody Eaking serves the last of his four-game suspension. (They put Antoine Roussel on IR after I wrote this- So there you go.)

Dallas went with seven defensemen Friday night, causing Kings-coach Sutter to petulantly remark "they didn't really have lines" when asked about matching up. With Dickinson's recall it seems he does not want to repeat the configuration in Glendale, or else would like to have options.

That's about all we know about the Stars heading into tonight. Kari Lehtonen, say what you like about rebound control, was brilliant in stopping 29 of 31 against Los Angeles Friday night so you'd think Ruff will roll with him. We shall see.

Try to figure out the Coyotes, I dare you.

Yes, they're bad. They've also had some weird games of late. They out-shot the Oilers 36-21 and lost 3-2. They got out-shot by the Predators 45(!)-34 and won. They got out-shot by the Leafs 46-30 and won, and by the Wings 38-19. And won.

So they're bad. But they don't always let that stop them, including a 3-1-1 spurt that had some hope brewing- Then they hit their current four-game losing streak to the Leafs, Oilers, Flames and Wild by a combined score of 15-6.

Perusing the main Coyotes coverage page on the Arizona Republic's website gives us the following topics for Arizona fans to consume- "Power Rankings: Patience for Coyotes?", "2016 worst year in AZ sports history?", and "Coyotes' results indicate start of a rebuild", which go along with other non-gameplay related topics such as Auston Matthews visiting and Shane Doan's 1500th NHL game.

That paints a pretty vivid picture- One Stars fans have seen before in this blog's infancy. They're not very good, and there's not a lot to hold on to. But you, dear reader, are familiar with how the Stars played down to what seemed like lesser competition last season- Including two losses in Glendale by a combined score of 9-4.

The Stars will see old pal Alex Goligoski, who is quite missed around these parts. How is he doing? I won't pretend like I understand what this means, exactly, but people who do were passing around this "5v5 Game by Game Expected Goal Differential" chart last week- That's his line that dips off to oblivion here:

13 points in 34 games played for our old pal- And a -14 rating on the year so far. It's not his fault (not all of it) that his team is dead last.

Their lineup:

  • Crouse-Hanzal-Vrbata
  • McGinn-Holland-Duclair
  • Rieder-Martinbrook-Doan
  • Perlini-Dvorak-Jooris

  • OEL-Murphy
  • Goligoski-Stone
  • Connauton-Schenn

  • Mike Smith
  • Louis Domingue

From Stars PR:

THERE IS NO ARIZONA

The Dallas Stars and Arizona Coyotes meet for the first of three games this season on Tuesday night at Gila River Arena. Last season against the Coyotes, the Stars recorded a 1-2-0 overall record and a 0-2-0 record in the Valley of the Sun. In the most recent meeting between the two clubs on March 31, 2016 at American Airlines Center, Dallas defeated Arizona, 4-1. Captain Jamie Benn (1-1=2) and defenseman John Klingberg (0-2=2) each recorded multi-point games, with goaltender Antti Niemi stopping 31-of-32 shots that he faced to record the victory. The Stars went 1-for-3 (33.3%) on the power play and were a perfect 2-of-2 (100%) on the penalty kill. Among active roster Stars skaters, forward Jiri Hudler leads the team with 20 career points (4-16=20) against the Coyotes in 35 total games.

THE ONCE AND FUTURE KLING

Stars defenseman John Klingberg recorded an assist (0-1=1) on Friday night against Los Angeles and has assists in three consecutive games (0-3=3). His three-game point streak ties his season-long, matching his three assists (0-3=3) over three games from Nov. 6 - 10. Klingberg now has recorded an assist in five of his last eight contests (0-5=5). The blueliner leads all Stars defensemen and shares fifth on the club with 17 points (2-15=17) in 33 games this season. Additionally, Klingberg ranks first on Dallas with 22:51 time on ice per game and third on the club with 15 assists. Over his NHL career against Arizona, Klingberg has three points (1-2=3) in six games.

LIN-SANITY

Stars defenseman Esa Lindell potted the game-winning goal (1-0=1) in overtime against the Kings on Friday night and has points in two-straight games (1-1=2). He now shares the team-lead with two game-winning goals on the season. Lindell's first career game-winning goal on Nov. 25 vs. Vancouver marked the blueliner's first NHL goal along with the first multi-point game of his NHL career (1-1=2). He now has six points (3-3=6) in 26 games this season and ranks third on the club with 20:03 time on ice per game. The native of Vantaa, Finland represented Finland at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey and was the only non-NHL player to be named to the preliminary Finnish roster and one of two to be named to a preliminary roster for any team (other: Connor Hellebuyck, Team North America).